A forgotten weeknight meal technique

This one used to be part of my repertoire, something I learned from my mom in the 1980s.  It’s actually something that was popularized back when *she* was a kid back in the 50s and 60s.  It takes 30-50 min to make, but most of that time is just rice being cooked (the difference in time is if you’re using white vs. brown rice)… actual prep time at the stove is closer to 10 min depending on how much you want to chop vs just throw in.

We rediscovered it one night when, anxious to make something the kids wouldn’t complain about, we dug out the complete I hate to cook cookbook by Peg Bracken and stumbled upon Doc Marten’s Mix which I’d seen mentioned in the comments of a recent frugal girl post (indeed, I’d dug out the book precisely because the comment jogged my memory).  This is a simple one pot recipe where you fry sausage and green peppers/onions/celery (the New Orleans version of mirepoix), add rice, then water, and cook until the rice is done.

But this simple technique is not limited to Doc Marten’s mix.  It’s anything where you saute veggies and possibly meat, add a cup of rice, two cups of water, and then cook as if it was rice.  I used to have a weeknight chicken cacciatore recipe on rotation (from my mom), which was sauteed chicken, onions, then put in one cup rice, then whatever kind of canned tomato produce we had and water to make 2 cups (or a bit more) of liquid and cook until the rice was done.  There’s another version where I used pork sausage and sage and onions and apples.  And you can do ground beef and tomatoes and onions and chili seasoning.  Or frozen mixed veggies and soy sauce with eggs (for a not at all greasy fried rice when you didn’t have any already cooked rice lying around).

The kids had thirds of the doc martin’s mix and gushed about it even though there were peppers and onions and celery in it.  (Our kids’ pickiness is often unpredictable.)  They were willing to have seconds the next day.  It was unheard of.  (DC2 has since gotten over hir most recent picky stage, but DC1 is still in the middle of it.)

I’m not sure why I forgot this was something I used to do.  Probably because we’ve been doing so much cookbook cooking rather than cooking based on memory and inspiration.  And it just isn’t a technique that’s “in” right now, so it’s not showing up in our books.

What are your favorite weeknight one pot meals?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “A forgotten weeknight meal technique”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    My family seems to have an aversion to mixing foods together. Their least favorite meal is stir fry. Both boys seem to eat their veggies first to get them out of the way before going for the good stuff, although the 13 year old will now eat anything and everything under the sun so he’s a little easier.

    One pot meals are great. I hated a lot of my moms cooking growing up but I used to love this chicken and rice dish she cooked in the oven that was similar. Just shove everything in a pot and bake til done.

    I am definitely looking for food inspiration that is more meatless. I have lots of nice and easy weeknight meals…like I finally found a marinade that makes pork tenderloin taste good to me….but it’s so easy to do meat, veg, starch as A meal. Need more interesting stuff.

    • First Gen American Says:

      The reason I like the pork is the leftovers are perfect in jambalaya the next day and a lot cheaper than beef tenderloin. Again kids are not fans but it’s my husbands favorite dish.

  2. gwinne Says:

    I’ve been doing something similar with a pressure cooker: it’s basically rice, broth, half a jar of salsa, beans and/or chicken. Once the machine comes to full pressure, it’s 6 minutes. I’ve also done a more traditional chicken and rice this way. I’ll need to do sausage….great idea.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I should note with the cacciatore-ish rice thing it’s important to add italian seasoning of some sort (oregano, basil etc.) if you’re not using something already flavored for the tomato part. Garlic is also generally a good addition.

  4. rose Says:

    Thick soups with grilled cheese sandwiches is non-meat option. People often think tomato soup but a pea soup is also wonderful. ‘Joe’s Special’ with hamburger/spinach/eggs is fast and easy. Expensive but fast is fish fillet broiled with veggies & biscuits. Cheese and hummus plate with crackers and raw dipping veggies is non-meat and fast.
    Slow cookers with really good recipes can be grand and big time savers.

  5. accm Says:

    A quinoa/ground-beef “burrito bowl” that works well on the stovetop or in the Instant Top. It does require organizing toppings, but the upside of that is that the kids get excited about the toppings and always finish their plates.

  6. Ally Says:

    These one pot rice meals terrify me as harder than other options – merely because I grew up with a rice cooker – the thought of trying to cook rice any other way is terrifying (and anytime I have tried, it didn’t work out very well). So I’m generally a “fix stirfry and make rice to go with it” kind of girl. (I keep intending to try and figure out how to make “mexican stirfry” or “italian stirfry” as a way to broaden my easy cooking options repertoire though…)

  7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I seem to be really bad at one pot meals but I may have to give these a try. I can handle three separate things: some carb, a protein, and a veggie. This week I’ve been experimenting with protein (ground beef then turkey) plus green veggie (green beans, then asparagus) stirfry and that’s been fine atop some rice for PiC and JB but since I need to increase my veggie and decrease my carb intake drastically, I have to mess with the proportions more to make it much more veggies heavy.

    I’m trying to decide if I do anything differently with my Brussels sprouts (currently cooking them stove top with some butter instead of the bacon I thought was essential) since I like that recipe and what else to do with the cauliflower since I don’t like any recipe I’ve used for them.

  8. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    • FF Says:

      I just completed my enrollment this morning. I’m so glad that I live in NY where the state has been advertising, the open enrollment period is longer, and enrollment numbers are actually up this year. And sorry that so many people in the U.S. live in places that don’t.

      By the way, do you have any thoughts/advice on choosing an HSA provider?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        There’s a huge literature on choosing ACA providers but I’m not an expert on it (other than that the software they use to help you do the comparisons in your market is doing a pretty good job) . :( So… not off the top of my head, but I can queue that in the ask the grumpies with all the other really hard questions we don’t know the answer to… we can’t answer it in time for this year, but there’s always next year…

      • FF Says:

        I already have the ACA plan figured out. I first check whether my doctors are in-network. Next, I come up with a detailed list of what I expect to need based primarily on my expenses for the current year. I then calculate what I would pay for the entire year under each plan I’m considering, taking into account both premiums and OOP expenses (including before/after deductibles and copays). This can get very complicated. I also calculate the worst-case scenario (total premiums plus OOP max). This year, for the plans I was considering, the answer was the same for both the expected and maximum scenarios. Plus the HDHP + HSA will have further tax advantages.

        What I’m concerned about now is the Health Savings Account, which is not offered via the ACA, but separately through financial institutions if you have a compatible health plan. So far, the most useful information I’ve found is from Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/health-savings-accounts/how-to-choose-a-health-savings-account/

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        ohhhh, I see what you mean… that is also something I know little to nothing about! I mean, I know about the HSA+HDHP thing but back in the day when I knew more you took the HSA that came with your employer’s HDHP and couldn’t get one from say, your local bank.

  9. Matthew Healy Says:

    My wife and I often do what we call “iterating the soup.” That’s when we’ve got some leftover soup in a pot in the fridge, but either it’s not enough for a meal or it’s been there a bit longer than optimal. Add some liquid, put it on the stove, cut up some “use them soon” veggies, canned garbanzo beans, etc. Best of all, if there’s more than a meal’s worth the pot can go back in the fridge so doesn’t even need to be washed…

  10. Ewan Says:

    Similar in concept: shahi biryani (that’s the recipe’s name, no promises of authenticity!) from an old Craig Claiborne NYT cookbook (and it’s the only recipe we have ever made from that book, no idea how/why we stumbled across it, but a family favourite). Chicken-and-rice oven-baked in clay pot or similar, flavoured with bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, coriander; includes caramelised onions and many pre-soaked raisins. Delicious.

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